GE, Microsoft earnings lift stock futures

Fri Apr 20, 2012 7:58am EDT
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By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock index futures rose on Friday, indicating the S&P 500 may snap a 2-day decline, after better-than expected results from Microsoft and General Electric Co propelled a solid earnings season.

GE rose 1.4 percent to $19.40 in premarket trading after the largest U.S. conglomerate's first-quarter profit topped estimates, helped by strong sales of jet engines and energy equipment as well as profit growth at its finance arm.

Microsoft Corp gained 3.6 percent to $32.13 premarket as the maker of the Windows operating system posted profit that beat expectations late Thursday as personal computer sales held up better than expected.

"GE was really strong, Microsoft had some good news. Those are probably the two biggest companies that pop out," said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

"GE's number's especially because it is a bellwether for the industrials and it's global. They beat on revenues, which they haven't really been able to do in a long time, and that really bodes well for industrials in particular."

Kimberly-Clark Corp posted higher quarterly profit as the maker of Kleenex tissues and Huggies diapers trimmed costs to deal with some weakness.

Air conditioner maker Ingersoll Rand Plc posted profit topped the Wall Street view early Friday and forecast full-year profit within Wall Street estimates.

Other major companies due to announce results Friday included McDonald's Corp and Gilead Sciences Inc.   Continued...

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, April 18, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid